Monday, March 4, 2019

Album Review: Bryan Adams - Shine A Light

Bryan Adams’ new record is, as usual, a well-crafted affair. At thirty-six minutes, it is a perfectly paced collection of consistently good songs that toe the line between classic rock and more modern sounds tailored for today’s radio, sung in a powerful and distinctive voice.

Shine A Light starts the album off with a bang, probably the best tune on the record, very reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen both musically and lyrically. The guitars and drums sound huge and it’s a treat to hear this familiar voice coming out of the speakers with the first new song since 2015’s Jeff Lynne-produced Get Up. The song could be played a tad slower in my taste, but that’s a small complaint: this is a new classic that will no doubt become a staple of his live repertoire.

That’s How Strong Our Love Is is a duet with Jennifer Lopez. Objectivvely, it’s a good, very danceable song modern-sounding tune where the both vocalists shine and complement each other very well. It is also not this reviewer’s cup of tea.

Part Friday Night, Part Sunday Morning is a fantastic country-tinged song with a cool guitar line,  perfect for driving on the open highway.

Driving Under The influence Of Love is a raucous boogie number, think Humble Pie or early Mott The Hoople. I don’t know when was the last time that Bryan Adams played a small, sweaty club but this would make the place go wild.

All Or Nothing is a throwback to 80’s and Adams’ Mutt Lange-produced blockbuster records. The riff is very reminiscent of Highway to Hell and the anthemic melody, fist-pumping arena chorus and the propulsive guitar solo would have turned this tune into a chart busting hit if such a thing still existed…

No Time For Love is a 50’s style rock n’roll song with a twangy guitar, stride piano, swinging drums and a rollicking guitar solo. Great fun!

I Could Get Used To This is a moody, modern sounding rocker with an alternative feel, think 2000-era U2. Its very short and feels more like an interlude and boasts a surprisingly heavy riff.

Also surprising is the fact that we had to wait until song number 8 to get a ballad. Not that Talk To is the prototypical power ballad you’d expect from Adams, but rather a languid, melancholy song withe beautiful slide guitars that give it great colors.

Last Night On Earth boasts a modern production with quasi-quasi-disco electronic drums and processed guitar but at its core is classic AOR.

Nobody’s Girl is another highlight,  a mid-tempo roots-rocker with lyrics straight out of Tom Petty.

Don’t Look Back is a great, slow number that progressively builds in intensity and would be the perfect ending for the record. Instead, Shine A Light ends with a good but anecdotal version of the Irish traditional song Whiskey In The Jar.

Shine A Light is a great album that is not going to change the minds of people who dismiss Adams as just a middle of the road performer. But those who will dig deeper than the obvious singles and production choices will enjoy a charismatic performer whose songwriting has reached a level of maturity and craftsmanship that have turned the hitmaker into a classic artist.

Join Apple Music HERE to listen to the entire album

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